Friday, 12 August 2022

Councillors question executive's £180,000 pay-off

COUNCILLORS in Henley have demanded to know why a former chief executive received a £180,000 pay-off.

David Hill left his role as joint chief executive of South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council in June after less than a year in post.

At the time, the councils said that he wanted to pursue other opportunities having taken a leave of absence due to an illness in his family.

However, a meeting of Henley Town Council last week heard that a report in the Oxford Times had revealed that Mr Hill received a pay-off of £180,000, £40,000 more than his annual salary.

Councillor Ken Arlett asked Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, one of Henley’s representatives on the district council, to explain the payment.

He said: “I think we should all be made aware why this payment was made to David Hill.”

Cllr Gawrysiak responded: “I think it’s an incredibly pertinent question.

“Unfortunately, there are no district councillors around this table that can actually give an answer or make a comment due to the legal advice we have been given by officers. Although it’s incredibly frustrating, I’m sorry that we can’t comment.”

Councillor Ian Reissmann said: “I don’t find your answer very satisfactory. As council taxpayers, we have a right to know why £200,000 was being spent.

“On what basis have you been silenced? Have you received written advice?”

Cllr Gawrysiak said all councillors were “party to the reasons and all the information” and had received legal advice both verbally and in writing.

He added: “I can’t make any further comment however unsatisfactory that may seem.”

Mr Hill was South Oxfordshire District Council’s strategic director from 2004 to 2007 and became chief executive in September 2016 following the retirement of David Buckle.

He led the councils through the development of the “Better Oxfordshire” proposal to create a unitary council for Oxfordshire.

At the time of his resignation, he said: “It was a great privilege to be appointed chief executive of the two councils and to be asked to lead their fantastic team of staff.

“I wish them well in the future and know they will continue to focus on providing high quality services and great value for money.”

Mark Stone was appointed acting chief executive in June and confirmed in position last month.

The Henley Standard has repeatedly asked the district council under the Freedom of Information Act for full details of Mr Hill’s departure but it has failed to provide the information.

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